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Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

March 26th, 2019

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

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Cutting bonuses and management is Dell’s new strategy

March 25th, 2019

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Monday, February 5, 2007

The return of Michael Dell as the Chief Executive Officer of computer making giant Dell marked a series of changes. In his memo to the employees of the company he founded, Michael Dell said that there will be no bonuses and that the company will reduce its management in an effort to cut costs.

2006 was not a financial success for Dell. It lost its leading market position to Hewlett-Packard, and the SEC started investigating Dell for possible accounting improprieties. Several executives also left during recent months.

The daily newspaper Austin American-Statesman reported the Rollins memo and posted on its website a copy of the e-mail. The e-mail was confirmed by Dell’s spokesman for the Associated Press.

Michael Dell’s memo also outlined the fact that all bonuses would be replaced by so-called “limited discretionary awards”. The beneficiaries of such awards will be all but senior management. There will also be a shortening in the period of stock investing.

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Wikinews interviews a Restore the Fourth organizer

March 25th, 2019

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A grassroots movement known as Restore the Fourth, dedicated to the protection of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, are to hold protests countrywide on July 4. The planned protests come in the wake of information about NSA surveillance leaked last month, notably the PRISM surveillance program and the collection of Verizon phone records. Wikinews interviewed Jett, a national organizer from this recently created movement.

((Wikinews)) First of all, could you explain what Restore the Fourth is all about?

Jett: At its core, RestoreTheFourth is about protecting citizens’ constitutional rights. Specifically, we’re dedicated to bringing awareness and action to the expanding overreach and elimination of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

((WN)) What is your role at Restore the Fourth?

Jett: My job at RestoreTheFourth could be summarized as ‘project coordinator’. Every person who wants to help can help in a tremendous way. I simply make sure that their skills get used in a way that would be most beneficial to the movement: web development, public relations, etc. I also field questions from the press and promote knowledge of our cause.

((WN)) What are your plans for direct action, outreach, etc.?

Jett: Our press release includes a list of ‘demands’ for what we want to see in order to restore our privacy rights, including reform of the PATRIOT Act and increased accountability for public officials. In the very short term, these protests and demonstrations bring awareness to the issue, something that’s really important in enacting reform. In the long term, however, we expect to create a legal organization dedicated to restoring these rights inherent to every American. By partnering with various other organizations that share our moral values, we can further these goals.
On July 4, we will have over 100 protests in all 50 states, showing that the citizens of America are truly serious about protecting their rights.

((WN)) By what means do you hope to achieve such change?

Jett: This movement started only a few weeks ago, and since then we’ve experienced exponential growth and progress. Since the movement is still very young, plans diverge in the long term on what we hope to achieve. Personally, I’d like to see a combination of legislative and litigative action (something like what the ACLU does), and others want to see further plans of action. With organizations such as the BORDC, stopwatching.us and the EFF behind us, I feel that we can achieve all of this and much more.
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What do you think is the right balance between surveillance and privacy?
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((WN)) Is the movement US-only or will it extend to other jurisdictions as well? Do you think it would be fair for the US to spy on non-citizens?

Jett: I believe that rights are inherent to all humans, not only United States citizens. In the long term I’d certainly like to see people of all nations protected from the slow elimination of privacy that we’re all experiencing.
He’s [Edward Snowden] being treated as a ‘martyr’ of sorts. It seems to distract from what he truly believed in.

((WN)) What do you think about Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing?

Jett: I think that too much attention is being given to his personality instead of what he fought for. He’s being treated as a ‘martyr’ of sorts. It seems to distract from what he truly believed in — transparency for the government and inherent privacy for all Americans.

((WN)) What do you think about his future, given the legal grey zone in which he currently is?

Jett: Hard to say. He may be captured by any number of agencies, or he may live a free man. Whatever happens, he has the eyes of millions of people on him, all of whom will yell very loudly if anything occurs.

((WN)) Thank you very much for your time.

Jett: Thanks for the opportunity.
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2008 YODEX Review: Varied competitions, Vast creations

March 25th, 2019

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Monday, May 26, 2008

The 27th Young Designers’ Exhibition 2008, recognized by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) as the largest show of student creations, recently ended Sunday May 18. It was held at the Taipei World Trade Center. Improvements and expansions were seen with 107 academical and industrial units. Different design competitions participated and showcased their products and also received awards.

It’s no doubt that companies related to design and cultural industries want to discover creative talents from academical units in this exhibition. However, most companies still try to showcase different conceptional and applicative products in order to promote Taiwan’s designs into the world market. A typical example is Fora Series, a photo-voltaic product series by the Tsann Kuen Trans-nation Group.

Before entering into their careers, students participated in this show and showcased varied styles that differ from the usual industrial businesspeople. To get more opportunities and in order to interact with the design and cultural industries, students also participated in vast competitions and tried to get the top places. Some students also tried to design conceptional products in conjunction with industrial designs, especially in some design competitions.

In summary, not only did the 2008 YODEX, have companies which can discover talents and showcase achievements of industrial design in the exhibition, but students can make their stages to showcase excellences from their creations in several competitions related to YODEX.

Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

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Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

March 24th, 2019

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

Two slain in knife attack at Swedish IKEA furniture retailer

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Two slain in knife attack at Swedish IKEA furniture retailer

March 24th, 2019

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Two people were killed yesterday afternoon and another seriously injured in Västerås, Sweden. The injured man is considered a suspect in the knife attack and was arrested in hospital. Another man was arrested at the scene, which was an IKEA furniture retailer. According to police, the two fatalities do not have any obvious connection to the suspects, but did know each other. The motive is, thus far, unknown.

Police were called to the scene at 13:00 local time and found three stab victims. Initially, all three were considered victims, but the status of one has been changed to suspect. The other two, a man and a woman, subsequently died from their wounds. Police have said CCTV is helping in the investigation. Local newspaper Vestmanlands Läns Tidning (VLT) has reportedly posted footage of one of the suspects being tackled by police.

VLT has further claimed to have identified the two victims as a mother and son, aged 55 and 28 respectively. According to the paper, the victims were not local residents, but did have a connection with Västerås, where they were vacationing at the time of the attack, which a police spokesperson has called “an act of madness” ((sv))Swedish language: ?En galen händelse.

“This is the worst working day of my life” ((sv))Swedish language: ?Det är den värsta arbetsdagen i mitt liv, said Mattias Johansson, the store manager of IKEA in Västerås, to Sveriges Television. IKEA spokesperson Anna Pilkrona-Godden told BBC News, “Our thoughts are with those affected,” and said the store is closed for the time being.

Västerås is in central Sweden, approximately 115 km (70 miles) west from the capital Stockholm. The population is roughly 110 thousand.

Nine dead after armed Santa Claus opens fire in LA suburb

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Nine dead after armed Santa Claus opens fire in LA suburb

March 24th, 2019

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Monday, December 29, 2008

At least nine people have been killed in a two-story house in Covina, California, after a man dressed in a full Santa Claus outfit opened fire at a Christmas Eve party and then set the house ablaze. Covina is a city in Los Angeles County, California about 22 miles (35 km) east of downtown Los Angeles.

According to local police, the Christmas party at the 1100 block of East Knollcrest Drive was attended by about 25 people. Trend News Agency said that the gunman fired two semi-automatic handguns and used an apparently home-made pressurized device to spread some kind of accelerant. As the guests tried in vain to escape, the gunman used his ‘present’ to spray inflammable liquid that started the raging blaze. Reports from the scene said Molotov cocktails were also used by the madman.

Media reports said the gunman was plotting vengeance against his ex-wife. Prime suspect, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, age 45, six-foot-three-inch, 250 pound (1.9 meter, 113 kilogram), an electrical engineer, is long time Roman Catholic church usher and a laid-off aerospace worker. He worked with ITT Electronic Systems, Radar Systems, in Van Nuys from February 2005 to July 2008, and as an engineer at Northrop Grumman for five months in 2005, according to Court records. He had also worked for about nine years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena until 1994.

Pardo’s ex-sister-in-law, who escaped from the Covina house alive with her injured daughter, called 911. Police on Friday released her 911 audio.

Msnbc.com has reported that Pardo “has brown hair and blue eyes, and known to frequent La Crescenta and La Verne.” Court records reveal that Mr Pardo’s wife acrimoniously divorced him last September. The divorce decree was finalized December 18. Until earlier this year, he lived in the Sylmar house with his ex-wife and her three children. The marriage lasted barely a year. However, Pardo held no criminal record and had no history of violence.

There is some speculation that the divorce may have been caused by Pardo concealing a paraplegic child from a previous relationship. Matthew, his nine-year-old son, by another former girlfriend, Elena Lucano, became brain damaged when he fell into a backyard swimming pool on Jan. 6, 2001. Pardo kept this child a secret from his wife. Pardo owed her $10,000 as part of the divorce settlement, according to court documents that detailed a bitter split. He also lost a dog he doted on and did not get back a valuable wedding ring. Pardo complained in a court declaration that Sylvia Pardo was living with her parents, not paying rent, and had spent lavishly on a luxury car, gambling trips to Las Vegas, meals at fine restaurants, massages and golf lessons.

After the mass murder, Pardo put on his street clothes and drove his rental Dodge Caliber car to the house of his brother, Jimmy Pardo, in Sylmar, approximately 30 miles away from the crime scene, where he committed suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His brother was not present in the home and he broke inside to enter in. It was believed that Pardo intended to flee to Canada by plane as he had bought an airline ticket to a flight there from Los Angeles to Moline, Illinois. However due to suffering from severe third-degree burns on both arms stemming from the blaze, he decided to go against the initial plan.

Police had found $17,000 cling-wrapped on his legs inside a girdle, the car key, and his rental car that had been parked on Herrick Avenue, one block from his brother’s house, which had been rigged by remnants of his Santa suit that would ignite a flame and detonate the car with black powder if removed. Also recovered from the scene were four 13-round capacity handguns that were each empty, and at least 200 rounds of ammunition. Suggesting that what had been inside the car was being treated as a threat, police fired an incendiary device into it, destroying and burning it.

The police found on early Thursday, Mr Pardo bore a single gunshot wound to the head. According to LA County coroner’s official Ed Winter, the bodies found in the ashes were “extremely charred and burned.” All three of Sylvia Pardo’s children — Selina, Sal and Amanda — survived. According to the Scott Nord, the Ortega family lawyer, “the entire family was wiped out, and there’s basically like 16 orphans.”

Three other party guests have injuries, according to police. A 16-year-old girl was shot in the back, and an eight-year-old girl suffered facial gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, while a 20-year-old woman had a broken ankle, after jumping from a second-story window, the police specified. About 80 firefighters put off the fire that soared fifteen metres (40 to 50 feet) high for more than one hour. The police discovered two handguns at the scene, and found two more in the in-laws’ house. Media reports on Friday said the 16-year-old daughter of Sylvia Pardo was released from Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

Meanwhile, investigators served a search warrant at Pardo’s Montrose house, where they retrieved evidence of high-octane racing fuel, five empty boxes for semi-automatic handguns, as well as two shotguns.

Covina police Lt. Pat Buchanan on Saturday said they are looking for Pardo’s rented gray 1999 RAV4, with California license plate 5RYD562. Police have found the second rental car Saturday night in a Glendale, California but found no bombs nor any explosives.

The police also revealed Saturday the names of nine people missing since the Christmas Eve massacre occurred. They are Pardo’s ex-wife, Sylvia Pardo, 43; her parents, Joseph Ortega, 80, and Alicia Ortega, 70; Alicia Ortiz, 46, and her son, Michael Ortiz, 17; Sylvia’s brother, Charles Ortega, 50, and his wife, Cheri, 45; another brother, James Ortega, 52, and his wife, Teresa, 51, according to Lt. Buchanan. “Hopefully, we’ll get positive identifications early next week,” Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said.

A murder-suicide is an act in which an individual kills one or more other persons immediately before, or at the same time as, killing him or herself. According to the psychiatrist Karl A. Menninger, murder-suicide or murder and suicide are interchangeable acts – suicide sometimes forestalling murder, and vice versa.

Robber holds retired NYC police officer at gunpoint during convention

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Robber holds retired NYC police officer at gunpoint during convention

March 23rd, 2019

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

John Comparetto, a retired New York City Police Department lieutenant, was held at gunpoint on Friday morning by an armed nineteen year old in a hotel bathroom who demanded Comparetto’s money and cellphone.

Comparetto handed over both to the thief. When the criminal took off with the money, Comparetto drew his gun from an ankle holster and immediately chased after the robber. Comparetto asked the hotel desk clerk which way the suspect went, and told the clerk to alert officers at a police convention that a fellow policeman was “in need of assistance”.

A police officer’s convention was being held at the Holiday Inn near Harrisburg Friday for 300 narcotics police officers in attendance from Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The teen departed the scene in a taxi cab outside the hotel.

Comparetto said, “I stopped the cab at gunpoint. Ten other cops came running out and we arrested probably the dumbest criminal in Pennsylvania.”

Jerome Marquis Blanchett is being held at Dauphin County Prison following his arrest.

Deadly fire below US President’s Trump Tower residence

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Deadly fire below US President’s Trump Tower residence

March 23rd, 2019

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On Saturday, the Trump Tower, in Midtown, New York City, caught fire shortly before 18:00 EST (2200 UTC) on the 50th floor, claiming the life of a 67-year-old resident, Todd Brassner, who lived in apartment 50C. All other residents were evacuated without incident. During the fire, six firefighters received non-life-threatening burns and other minor injuries. Neither US President Donald Trump nor the First Family were in the building at the time of the fire.

The high-end Fifth Avenue address is the personal residence of President Donald Trump, whose family occupies the top three stories of the 58-story building. The US Secret Service maintains a constant security presence inside the building with the New York City Police Department guarding a hard perimeter, intended to stop vehicular attacks, and a soft perimeter, intended for on-foot attacks.

The four-alarm fire required 200 firemen, extra police, and paramedics. At 20:00 EST (0000 UTC Sunday), the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) declared the fire was under control. Trump tweeted, “Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!” This is the second fire at Trump Tower since the election; previously on January 8, a fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in a cooling tower on the roof. Three FDNY firefighters received minor injuries, and all residents and office workers evacuated without incident on that occasion.

Trump Tower provides a number of unique problems never before encountered by the Secret Service. Never has a US President’s personal residence been inside a skyscraper or in a densely populated area like Midtown. The security measures have disrupted vehicular and pedestrian traffic requiring time consuming detours and delaying emergency response.

The New York Fire Code did not mandate sprinkler systems at the time Trump Tower was built in 1983, which might have reduced the size and severity of the fire had they been present. The 50th-floor apartment was, according to FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, “[T]he apartment was virtually, entirely on fire.” The Secret Service monitors all the fire alarms in the building but it took time to find the source of the thick black smoke emanating from the fire. Secret Service Agents escorted the firefighters throughout the building, including the Trump residence.

Brassner, the sole casualty, was unconscious when firefighters pulled him out of apartment 50C. He was transported to Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital. Originally listed as critical, he was pronounced dead sometime during the night. Brassner, guitar collector, was acquainted with artist Andy Warhol and was acknowledged in Warhol’s 1989 autobiography, The Andy Warhol Diaries. The cause of the fire is unknown, with investigations into Brassner’s death and the emergency response ongoing. Currently, the Secret Service leads the investigation.

Anti-ACTA activists protest across Europe

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Anti-ACTA activists protest across Europe

March 23rd, 2019

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Guy Fawkes masks were on display in cities across Europe yesterday as part of a protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international trade agreement on copyright and intellectual property that opponents believe will limit free speech online.

Organisers of the protest said about 100,000 people turned up in German cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Hanover. In Berlin, police estimated 6,500 protestors. Protests also took place in Paris, Sofia in Bulgaria, Vilnius in Lithuania, Valetta in Malta, Tallinn in Estonia, and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. In London, about 200 people protested outside some major copyright holders’ offices. Last month, there were major protests in Poland when that country signed ACTA, which has led to the Polish government deciding not to ratify the agreement, for now. Latvia and Slovakia have both delayed the process of joining ACTA.

Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group, a UK digital civil liberties campaigning group, said ACTA was “undemocratic”, “lacked scrutiny”, and was “setting up dangerous new pressures to censor the internet”.

The United Kingdom have signed ACTA, along with 21 other EU countries. Germany and the Czech Republic have held out on agreeing to it, awaiting a debate on the matter in the European Parliament in June. Baroness Wilcox, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, claims signing the treaty was important to help bring about “common enforcement standards and more effective international cooperation” in intellectual property law.